BY BRIAN BYRNE
WHEN I wrote about the latest Peugeot 308 back in May, shortly after it was launched here, I was decently impressed with only a relatively short time with the car.
After a recent week, which for various family reasons involved an unusually large amount of travel including some airport collection runs, that good impression has been cemented.
There’s nothing like putting a car under more than normal daily pressure to show up any shortcomings. With this one there were ... none. None that stuck in my mind anyhow. Which shows that the French brand, now part of the comprehensive Stellantis Group, continues to make key models that are exactly what their market segment needs.
The 308 of course is still a hatchback — and a wagon too — in an overall market which has heavily tilted to SUV-crossovers in the last decade.
But there’s still a strong place for the compact family hatch, especially in Europe, and along with similar format cars from its key competitors, Peugeot is determined to meet that need.
The latest 308 is the third generation of this particular nameplate, but its compact hatchback antecedents go back all the way to the 306 introduced by Peugeot in 1993.
After introducing the first 308 in 2007, the company stopped the practice of changing the last digit as it changed generations. So the carmaker has a long-tailed pedigree in this size and format, and a reputation that it is determined to protect.
The new 308 is longer than its predecessor. It has a longer wheelbase too, which means there’s seriously decent room in the rear, and a good boot.
It is lower to the ground, which makes for a very sleek profile even parked, a view enhanced by a more raked windscreen. But in the stylistic scheme of things, it is relatively conservative because that’s where the Peugeot overall market is. Still, there’s good presence in the front view, a new-style dark grille and a strong sabre signature from the daylight running lights.
The extra length adds to the profile, suggesting that there’s more car than has been the case in previous versions. And that’s true — there’s actual comfort for rear passengers, for instance, who wouldn’t be discombobulated over longish journeys.
There’s quite an edgy feel to the well-executed interior, but not at the expense of the comfort which Peugeot customers have long been accustomed to expect.
The dashboard and instrumentation stylists have been keen on lines and angles for a while now, and took advantage of the latest in digital graphics to make management of all the features reasonably easy to learn and operate.
Some real toggle switches and knobs too, for main functions control. The main instruments offer a variety of styles, and I settled on one which was closest to old analogue information. The now-familiar Peugeot design of seeing instruments over the steering wheel rather than through it continues to be a good feature.
My review car this time was the petrol-only version — there’s a diesel and a brace of plug-in hybrid options too, and a full electric variant is slated for Ireland in the last quarter of next year. This one proved to be a peppy 130hp unit, with a very distinctive note from the three-cylinder when pushing up the revs.
All 308s in RHD markets like Ireland come only with an 8-speed automatic, which does mean that base price is higher than the distributor might like.
But it’s a very economical petrol-auto combination, and my time with the car saw a 5.8L/100km fuel consumption right in line with the claimed figure.
As I’ve mentioned, I worked the car pretty hard through my time with it, and it served me well. I was glad of the auto box, and of the comfort that is part and parcel of the latest 308. I’ll be very interested when the opportunity comes to live with the PHEV version for a while.
The SUV brigade can motor on in their trendy — and in fairness to family needs, useful — styles, but there are still plenty of people out there, like me, for whom a compact hatch is the right format for our life style. Good to see we’re still being well catered for.
What I liked: It suits my lifestyle.
Price: From €31,765; review Allure grade €35,705.